Well, the back-to-school shopping frenzy is over for the most part and I couldn’t be more thrilled, having survived the ordeal with yet a few marbles to my name. My two kidlets have once again returned to the world of books and pencils, and the crippling sense of urgency I felt to outfit and clothe them appropriately has now passed. Amen.
No longer will I look at a rack of insanely discounted apparel and feel the need to devour it, stuffing armload upon armload of garmentage-I’ll-never-use-but-God-this-is-cheap into my cart like a maniac. Nor will I be inclined to haul my brood to 17 different stores in search of the perfect (fill in the blank with an infinite array of gotta-have-it items for the first day of school or I’ll die), pausing only to refuel, to wade through the carnage in the aisles and to visit the loo roughly 600 times in a period of 10 hours. Nope, we’re done with that foolishness. The gods have smiled upon me and my heart is glad.
But it certainly was an epic event—a shopping marathon worthy of high praise and recognition from a husband who refused to participate (except when it came to the “fun stuff” like buying soccer gear and doling out soft pretzels). That aside, I guess I expected a certain degree of pain and suffering to accompany such a woeful duty; but I never imagined the misery that would come to define our lunchbox selection process. It was pure agony. And a complicated matter at that.
More specifically, neither child appeared to be satisfied with the offerings. And by satisfied I mean COMPLETELY AND WHOLLY ENTHRALLED WITH EVERY LAST FLAP, POUCH AND ZIPPERED COMPARTMENT, TO INCLUDE SHAPE, SIZE, MOLECULAR STRUCTURE AND PICTURISH THINGIES CONTAINED WITHIN AND ON SAID LUNCHBOXES. Grok!
At one point, I felt hopelessly bound within a Dr. Seuss nightmare. Thing 1 and Thing 2 ostensibly found fault with everything lunchboxish and were virtually incapable of making a decision. (So much for the eenie-meenie-miney-mo method).
“I do not like them, Sam-I-am! Not one will suit my bread and jam. I do not like them with a fox. For lunch, I need a pinkish box. I do not like this stupid pouch. Stop rushing me; I’m not a grouch! I would not could not on this shelf. I want to pick one by myself. I do not like them in this store! Take me, take me where there are more!”
Five stores and two meltdowns later, we were still deeply immersed in the absurdity our day’s undertaking had become. I seriously toyed with the idea of offering a pony to the first child who suggested that brown-bagging it was suddenly cool.
At that point I called for reinforcements (the husband), since I was sure the madness would never end and I knew someone would need to raise the children once I had gone off the deep end. Dozens upon dozens of possibilities then lay at our feet—because our lovely charges felt it was necessary to yank them off the shelves (with glee) in order to examine them more closely (i.e. to Kid Test them and to eventually place the ones that received a passing grade in a nice, little clump on the floor—the Maybe Pile).
After a time, their tactics morphed from strange to even stranger. One child encircled the other with eight or more viable options from the heap of maybes, engaged in some sort of ritualistic rain dance and then instructed her to squat down and start spinning. Yes, spinning like a giant Spirograph around and around until one glorious lunchbox shouted out to her, “Pick me! Pick me!”
Soon, curious onlookers gathered in the aisle. Some were amazed. Others, amused. We had become a spectacle of sorts and everyone apparently wanted to be there when the final verdicts came in. I just wanted it all to end—before sunrise.
And end it did. Finally. A green ogre for one and three pink princesses for the other. It seemed simple enough on the surface, but I knew better. Choosing a lunchbox was a complicated matter after all. And sadly, the virtues of eenie-meenie-miney-mo were all but lost on my crew.
Planet Mom: It’s where I live.
This piece also appeared on the blog of the lovely and talented Susan Heim: (aka Susan Heim on Parenting).
Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel